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San Diego County Board of Supervisors address fentanyl crisis

CDC data shows fentanyl deaths in ages 18-45 is the number one killer, far exceeding deaths caused by car accidents, COVID, heart disease, and gun violence.

SAN DIEGO — The fentanyl crisis was back in the spotlight Tuesday morning. In response to this growing epidemic, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors discussed declaring illegal fentanyl a public health crisis. This would make it easier for the county to prevent fentanyl misuse and reduce its availability across the county.

According to the board’s agenda, accidental overdose deaths caused by fentanyl have reached historic levels across the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that over 80,000 overdose deaths caused by fentanyl occurred in 2021 alone. Data from the CDC shows that accidental deaths caused by fentanyl is the number one killer of people between the ages of 18 and 45, far exceeding the number of deaths caused by car accidents, COVID, heart disease, and gun violence within this age group.

In 2021, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) seized 6,354 pounds of powder fentanyl at the San Diego County Ports of Entry (POE) San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Tecate.

According to board statistics, the number of people in San Diego County dying from accidental fentanyl overdoses has increased exponentially over the past several years.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner reported 33 fentanyl caused deaths in 2016 and the provisional number of fentanyl caused deaths for 2021 exceeds 800, an increase of over 2300% in only five years.

Preliminary numbers indicate accidental fentanyl overdose deaths in 2022 will likely exceed those from 2021. These figures do not include the hundreds of individuals who overdose on fentanyl and survive but who suffer long-term physical and mental damage as a result.

Illicit fentanyl is most often found in San Diego County in counterfeit pills and in white powder.

Tuesday's action would direct the Chief Administrative Officer to work with the Health and Human Services Agency Director and the Public Health Officer to determine the best course of action to declare illicit fentanyl a Public Health Crisis and return to the Board of Supervisors on August 16, 2022.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego parents warn of fentanyl dangers after losing their honor student son

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